Inside Austin Gardens Tour: Flashy Natives, the garden of Lois Pesz

Now that the Death Star has (finally!) begun its seasonal retreat, it’s time for us gardeners to venture forth, squinting, from our air-conditioned houses and actually enjoy spending time in our gardens again. And as we survey the figuratively charred state of our gardens and await Austin’s “second spring,” it’s the perfect time for a garden tour to grant us some new inspiration and enthusiasm. Fitting that bill nicely, this year’s Inside Austin Gardens Tour is on Saturday, October 17th. Organized by the Travis County Master Gardeners with the theme “For Gardeners, By Gardeners,” it features 6 private gardens and one public garden. The garden bloggers were treated to a preview tour this past Thursday so we could give you the scoop.

First up is the south Austin garden of Lois Pesz, which wows with lush and colorful plantings starting right at the curb.

Lois Pesz - front garden

Lois favors a mixture of native plants and well-adapted ornamentals with dramatic foliage, most notably evergreen yucca, the dramatically-arching deep purple-hued “Princess Caroline” fountain grass, purple-burgundy spikes of dykia, and the glossy black-purple of ornamental peppers. The repetition of flower and foliage hues and forms unifies the front garden design.

purple dykia

kalanchoe picks up the purple of variegated tradescantia

The front lawn is a gently curving wide path that creates a quiet negative space that tames the exuberant plantings. The lawn is edged with nearly invisible root barrier edging. Round rocks are set inside that border as the visible edging, creating clean lines for the lawn and greatly reducing maintenance.

lawnCertain color and form combinations echo each other throughout the front garden. Here the purple ornamental pepper and blue-green spikes of softleaf yucca echo the shape  and color of the dramatic Princess Caroline pennisetum purpureum behind it.
softeleaf yucca echoes the foliage of Princess Caroline

This arrangement is echoed in a shady spot with spiky-fountain shape of dianella flax lily contrasting with the dramatic purple foliage of Persian Shield.
flax lily and Persian Shield

And here in another part-sun nook, the spiky-purple theme continues with yucca, ornamental pepper, and Mystic Spires salvia:
purple and spikes

Moving to the backyard, you’re greeted with the unexpectedly dramatic foliage of giant okra.


The okra provides privacy screen for one side of the back deck, which is arranged into conversation areas with comfortable furniture.
patio seating

A collection of potted plants brings the garden right up to the house. This pot features an unusual combo of dianella flax lily and firecracker fern.
flax lily and firecracker fern

And who did I spy keeping a sharp eye on us bloggers? Meet Bernie, one of the garden cats.
Bernie the cat

Many thanks to Lois for opening her garden for us and for answering our many questions!
the gardener herself

You can see more pictures and read more about Lois’s garden on the Inside Austin Gardens Tour website.

The Inside Austin Gardens Tour is October 17th from 9 AM to 4 PM. Tickets are $20 for all 7 gardens or $5 per garden. You can also buy your ticket to all of the gardens for $19 here. More information can be found on the Inside Austin Gardens Tour website.

See you on tour day!

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wide-shot meme: October 2015

wide shot october 2015

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Morning Mockingbirds

Swapping out the old fountain for a taller one with a shallow basin and more gentle flow has brought all the birds to the yard. I really miss the sound of the old fountain, but this is a tradeoff I’m willing to make.


ETA: I’m entering this picture in the Gardening Gone Wild Picture This Photo Contest.

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Wide-shot meme: September 2015

Taken on the first of the month, posted now. And naturally, it rained that night for the first time since June and I took that golden opportunity to weed the curb while the ground was still softer than concrete and cut back some of that hot mess. I was promptly stung by a scorpion, right through my glove. It still itches.


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wide-shot meme: July 2015



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Full Bloom

It’s a kingdom of leaf-footed bugs up there!


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The Death Lean begins…


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